Gender in Exile: Vanessa Redgrave’s Prospero in The Tempest (2000)



Like King Lear, the role of Prospero in The Tempest is considered by critics and performers to be one of the greatest Shakespearean roles, and is associated with eminent male actors in the twilight of their careers. Many scholars and theater practitioners, believing that The Tempest was Shakespeare’s last play, have associated Prospero with the author himself. D. G. James, writing in 1967, discerned in the play “the marks and manner of a fully deliberated final creation and of a farewell” (1), and opined that “Shakespeare slyly saw himself in Prospero: the god, the poet, and the man obscurely joined in one” (167). According to this autobiographical reading of the play, Prospero’s speech that begins “Our revels now are ended” (4.1.148) articulates Shakespeare’s farewell to the theater, and the association between the author and the magician means that the play represents “Shakespeare’s last and best expression of human reality” (Vaughan 1999, 89).


Male Actor Sound Effect Audience Member Globe Theatre Direct Address 
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© Elizabeth Klett 2009

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